Cultural factors are often seen as having a causative role in psychiatric disorders and addictions. Acculturation for migrants and refugees is a stressor in itself due to the rapid and demanding adaptation this requires. For some, the demands may be too high, especially when combined with other factors common to migrants and refugees. Racism, discrimination, social isolation and intergenerational conflict in the family can also contribute to the onset of mental disorders. For refugees, other factors may include loss, torture, trauma and settlement challenges.
Some cultural and religious practices or beliefs can provide psychological support and a source of strength for newcomers for example belief in:
- Inshallah – it is the will of God/as God wills it.
- Karma – a circumstance determined by previous actions.
The absence of familiar cultural supports after migration, along with changes in the standards of normality and abnormality, can also be implicated in the aetiology of mental disorders. Differences in the conception of self also contribute to how an individual experiences reality (as alone or connected) and may influence symptoms that lead to mental disorders.